Someone asked me just the other day how I felt about learning Wicca, Witchcraft or other forms of Paganism or magic from a shelf of books. In all honesty, I have no problem with it. I’d prefer, in fact, that people would learn from books as opposed to the Internet any day. But in an ideal world, I’d rather students learn from actual teachers. I’m a huge proponent of Coven-based learning. But also know that I don’t insist every human being who wants to learn Witchcraft drop their lives and join a Coven. Truthfully, Coven-life (or even Witchcraft) is not for everyone. It is not a practice for the masses, regardless of what all the fun-loving gooey light and love authors want to tell you.
Having said all of that, I’ve cobbled together this list of the 10 books that have heavily influenced my current practice. Some people would call a few of the books on this list “fluffy,” New Age or just plain useless. Remember: I came from a Coven and have been a High Priest with three different groups (the third of which is in its second incarnation). I’ve got some training behind me that gave me what could be learned and experience has given me what could not. The rest of it is theatrics. As Ru Paul has said, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”
Be A Goddess, by Francesca DeGrandis
I first found this book back in 2003. I’ve been through the first 8 chapters multiple times. I finally completed all 15 weeks of the program in 2014, but I didn’t get the chance to blog about the entire experience. Life took over. It is one of the most influential tomes in my Witchcraft because, even though my eyes were already open so-to-speak, this book has definitely expanded my vision.
A Witches’ Bible, by Janet and Stewart Farrar
If you’re looking for a book that is a great primer for Traditional Initiatory Wicca, this book is the way to go. If you aren’t aware, the Farrars are Alexandrian, so this book is obviously based on that form of the practice of the Craft. It’s a combination of two of their works: Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches Way. It’s a thorough introduction to the Alexandrian Tradition and a good handbook for the practice of the Craft and the teachings that are often taken out of context elsewhere within Pagan and Wiccan literature.
Devoted to You, by Judy Harrow
Admittedly, I’m biased. The first book I ever ready by Judy Harrow was Wicca Covens, and I immediately fell in love with her work. She was a gifted woman with insight that most people are too afraid to put to voice, not to mention one of the wisest High Priestesses to ever set foot upon this glorious planet. Devoted to You is a wonderful anthology written by several contributors (edited by Lady Judy) about their experiences with a 30-day Deity Immersion exercise.
Mastering Witchcraft, by Paul Huson
Not to be scoffed at, this book was also required reading when I began my studies of the Craft. While it recommends the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in reverse, the intent is not “Satanic” – at least not from my perspective. To my mind, the reasoning is clear: it’s a method of expunging yourself of all that pent-up ultra-religious hullaballoo you were brought up with, if you were raised in “that other” religion. It actually does cover some of the basics of actual Witchcraft, so be prepared to do some of the work recommended by this book. I don’t agree with absolutely everything in it, but it is definitely influential to the Craft, and it has been influential to my practice.
Ritual Craft, by Amber K
By the time I found this book, I was already quite deep into the ritual practice that I had been taught in my first Coven. Nevertheless, adaptation never hurts, especially when it leads you to freshen up your ritual with new ideas that prove transformative, both in your life and the life of your Coveners (if you do ritual with others). A very good resource of ideas for both Solitary and Coven-based ritual that means something. In addition, Amber K is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Year’s ago, I wrote to her via email and she kindly gave me permission to use this text as a teaching tool in my Coven.
True Magick, by Amber K
This was required reading for me when I joined my first Coven back in 1990, which, incidentally, is the year that the first edition came out. I was reading my then-current High Priestess’s copy. Since, I’ve purchased a copy for myself, but the one I have is updated with a few new edits. Mine is the 2010, revised and expanded second edition. Much of the “tech” I use in my practice (including the Witch’s Pyramid), I learned about in True Magick.
Dreamtime and Inner Space, by Holger Kalweit
While this isn’t a how-to book or a self-help book, like most of these, this book is quite the overview of various cultural takes on what we today call the “Shaman.” If you have any intent on ever walking between worlds or crossing hedges, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
You Are Psychic, by Debra Katz
Remember how I said above that some of the books on this list might be considered “fluffy?” Well, this might be one of them. This is Clairvoyant’s take on energy work, and might be considered “New Age,” but it is energy work, nonetheless. It is a great guide for learning meditation, visualization and the art of Sitting in the Silence. Not to mention, the actual energy work that it instructs you in performing is one of the best methods of energy work I have ever found. It clears the energy pathways of the body and strengthens one’s ability to sense, feel, see or read energy. Even if you aren’t able to “see” energy, etc., the work in this book can help you to achieve the discovery of how you are able to work with energy. (Example: I don’t “see” it – I sense or feel it and I intuit a lot, all of which are abilities that I found strengthened by the methods in this book.)
Take Time for Your Life, by Cheryl Richardson
This book is very clearly not a Witchcraft-related book. However, it is a self-growth book and, for those of us who need to be needed and/or prefer to devote the majority of our time to caring for others, it will open you up to endless possibilities if you do the work inside of it. Less stress, more adventure and a better sense of fulfillment in your life balance, are concrete results to be had from this author’s work.
In the Shadow of the Shaman, by Amber Wolfe
Amber is clearly Pagan, as she works with Pagan deities in this book. She calls herself Wiccan and speaks of her practice as Wiccan, though I’m not entirely sure that the Old Gards would agree with that idea. At any rate, Amber Wolfe talks about various practices one can use in their own life, and they seem to be primarily adapted from the traditions of the indigenous tribes of North America. It’s sort of an American Eclectic Wiccan’s approach to what she considers to be “Shamanism.” This is not bad, just not culturally sensitive, in my mind. But the book was written in the ’90’s, when Eclectic Wicca really sprang to life via Scott Cunningham’s approach to the Craft, so you can’t blame Amber. Good info on working with the spirits (or archetypes) of animals.
There are many, many more books that have influenced my Craft. I can’t possibly list them all. Some are: The Heart of the Initiate (Anderson), The Spiral Dance (Starhawk), The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill (Artisson), Wicca Covens (Harrow), The New Pagans (Holzer), Sorgitzak (Cummer), A Cornish Book of Ways (Gary), and so many more.
What are some of the books that influence(d) your personal Craft practice?